WHERE TO REPORT A SCAM:
Choosing the right jurisdiction
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Law Enforcement Jurisdictions:
US City, Town, and County
Foreign & International
Whether you are a fraud victim or someone
with a suspicion of or direct knowledge of a crime,
understanding where and how to report your knowledge
will save you time
and worry. The scam or other crime you report in a
well-constructed manner can lead to the righteous arrest and
conviction of a person who is causing a storm of
financial destruction and misery.
Sometimes it means contacting your
local enforcement, and sometimes not. It's always
advisable to obtain a list of the enforcement agencies
in your country along with the types of crime each
Law enforcement works pretty much the
same everywhere and attitudes are fairly consistent so
we strongly advise you read through the
Introduction to learn how to cope with process and
procedure when addressing law enforcement officers.
Definition of fraud with
The public cost of a
You can contact any law enforcement
agency anywhere in the world to report a
fraud. That doesn't mean you will
Not every law enforcement jurisdiction
Some jurisdictions only investigate
certain frauds over certain loss
This guide will lead you to the right
place or places to report fraud.
administering of justice; authority or legal
power to hear and decide cases
authority or power in general
a sphere of authority
the territorial range of
a law court or system of law
The definition of fraud
The definition of fraud can vary
slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Here is the basic rule of thumb:
Intentionally manipulating, persuading,
or misleading a
person through lies and half truths, to
the purposeful detriment of that person and to the personal
benefit and profit of the manipulator.
Manipulation and persuasion are
acceptable so long as they are used for the benefit
of the person who is being manipulated or persuaded,
for instance to help a child avoid bad choices or to
set someone up for a surprise party.
Advertising manipulates our feelings
about a product or service, but that is not a scam
unless the product or service is represented to do
more than it does or can do (misrepresentation).
There are many types of Federal law enforcement and local
police offices. They do not
all investigate the same kinds of crimes; however, their sphere of
authority often overlaps and this causes confusion for fraud victims.
For instance, both the FBI and the Secret Service
investigate bank fraud, cyber fraud, and money laundering. The
Securities and Exchange Commission plus individual state commissions and
Secretaries of State all investigate securities frauds.
It can be very hard to decide where to file your complaint
and how many jurisdictions will be interested enough in your
complaint to investigate it. The trick is to understand each
jurisdiction's current priorities, an easier task than you may think.
This section of the Scam Solution Center will guide you
toward deciding where and when to file your complaint.
What takes place in one precinct, county, state,
territory, or country will not automatically be investigated by enforcement in another
precinct, county, state, territory, or country. Statutes (laws),
priorities, viewpoints, practices, attitudes, affiliations, cultures,
and the entire local or national justice system can be totally different
from area to the next.
Cross-border investigations are particularly challenging
because they can involve different languages on top of the other
Inter-jurisdiction cooperation can be a nightmare for the
officers or agents involved and for fraud victims.
Many scammers are aware of this, operating in multiple
jurisdictions to make investigation difficult.
For instance, you - the victim - live in Anytown,
Florida. The criminal lives in Outer Slobovia. Who has
jurisdiction? You can report the crime to your local police or to a Federal field office but neither of those
jurisdictions has any authority in Outer Slobovia, whose law enforcement
may or may not be willing to lend a hand in apprehending the villain.
Frequently - not.
The United States has established several enforcement
agencies to handle cross-jurisdiction crimes within its borders.
Some countries have also established agencies for this purpose, some
Inter-agency cooperation can be as problematic as
relations between special interest groups or even family members.
Just like a sports team, budgets and promotions are based on wins.
Getting credit for an arrest is very important to both
the investigator and the office in which the investigator works.
In American slang, making an arrest is called a "collar."
The first detective or agent to get the case is called the "lead"
detective or agent.
Even when an investigation is run by more than one
investigator, credit for a collar may primarily go to one investigator
and/or to the lead investigator while the other investigators are
credited with participation. Investigation teams may also share
A good arrest record makes everyone in that office or
department look good, leading to larger budgets, higher pay grades, and
and an envious reputation.
The arrest credit counts for even more when the criminal
charges "stick," meaning the arrest led to a successful conviction.
While this all makes for a competitive atmosphere, when
inter-jurisdiction cooperation does occur it's because the individual
participating investigators are all angry about the criminal for the
same reason, bringing them together as unit focused on a common goal.
Since most officers joined the force because they hate
crime, and since detectives by their vey nature enjoy solving puzzles,
inter-jurisdiction teams are frequently very successful even though it
means the credit is spread very thin.
The cost of a fraud
A white collar crime investigation costs Federal law enforcement agencies
anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 in man hours, and that's for any easy
Our local, state and Federal taxes pay for those investigations,
and unless we are willing to withstand a huge tax increase, the money
simply isn't there to spend $100,000 on a $4,000 loss.
That's why nearly every jurisdiction has a loss threshold that can
run from $100,000 to $500,000 or more. This means that the
enforcement office cannot afford to open a file for an individual loss that is less than its threshold amount.
The cost of a fraud investigation can be so prohibitive
that some local Sheriff and police offices do not investigate fraud at